Marjorie Hamill (1941-2018)
Eulogy at the Funeral Mass, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Creagh, Feb 7th 2018
Rev. Fathers, Andrew and Jane, members of the extended family.
I don't think it would be proper to allow Marjorie to disappear into the dark night of death without a few words in her honour.
I want to sympathise deeply with Andrew and Jane, who have lost a devoted mother, who was always there for them when they returned from their travels. She was the anchor of their lives.
Marjorie was the third in our family of two boys and two girls and she is the first to go and it will put a big gap in our lives because, even though we all lived apart we did keep in contact and we were always united on New Year's Eve with a meal and on New Year's day with a sumptuous repast at Kathleen and Liam's.
Marjorie was absent this year, having become ill on December 3, but we drank a few glasses in her absence and hoped that she would be well soon.
But, she wasn't. She gave us hope a few times during the past weeks but, more often than not it was only a short respite and, as the weeks wore on and she fought with the many failures in her system, our hopes for her recovery became fewer and we were all gathered on Sunday to watch her heading towards her end.
During this period we had the opportunity to have conversations with Andrew and Jane who, because of their work continents away, had almost disappeared off our radar. Marjorie's illness brought us all closer together.
During those weeks she was extremely well cared for by the front line staff in both the Portiuncula and Galway University Hospital. I have nothing but the highest praise for their caring professionalism and we are all extremely grateful to them for the way they looked after Marjorie during her last days.
Marjorie was a bit prone to accidents. We expected perhaps not the worst but something to go wrong when she was doing something. I remember going a play in the school in Oranmore when she was a boarder there. She was in charge of the curtain and she slipped off the stage and brought the curtain down with her.
Her driving skills were problematic and she had many an argument with piers and bollards.
She broke her leg on one occasion by falling over a trough for feeding the hens.
And, I heard last night that Marjorie went through a door in the Bundestag, Berlin for a smoke during a visit to that city, and almost created an international incident, when she tried to get back into the building!
I suppose because of these mishaps, we had a protective nature towards her, even though she learned to look after herself well.
I suppose another memory of her was to have been on the slow side. On one occasion we climbed Croagh Patrick and Liam and I left her behind on the way down, she was so slow. Also, at one stage she had to prepare the dinner at home for a period and she could never get it ready in time for Daddy who was a stickler for the 12 o'clock meal. Instead of improving her ways, she used to turn back the clock and convince him he had come in early.
But Marjorie managed and got on with her life and was in charge of medicines in St, Brigid's hospital at a time when the hospital was a very large going concern and in the days before computers were available to record and control what took place in her department.
And she did all this in a laid-back manner always having the time for a chat with a patient or a member of the staff. I suppose this is the quality I admired most about her, her time for people, her capacity to listen and to bond with others.
Her friends say she hadn't a bad bone in her body. They have nothing only good memories of her. She hadn't a bad word for people and was great to keep a secret. She didn't carry stories and was a thrusted friend
What I only learned recently was her love of poker, not high stakes stuff I might add but small stuff where a tenner pot would be big money. Marg and the cards revealed a different person. She was a member of two schools and, as far as I can make out, she bossed both of them. She kept a great eye on the table and on the cards that were played and was very sharp on payments to the pool. In fact she wouldn't deal until everyone had the money paid in. Everything had to be in order before the cards could be dealt.
I suppose most of us associate Marjorie with a love of smoking.. She was so happy when she had one and following the smoking ban, a regular sight during a gathering was to see her disappearing outside for the drag. We encouraged her often to give them up but she was never going to do so and it wasn't only the cigarette that gave her satisfaction but the conversations that occurred when she went out for her fix.
Marjorie had a good sense of fun and enjoyed the good story. I recall her remarking on how all the old psychiatric hospitals were located between rivers and railways, as if the planners had a nefarious intent. She told me numerous stories from St. Brigid's and one she told with humour was of the patient running away and racing madly for the river and the nurses tearing after him with their white coats flying in the wind and he arrives at the water's edge before them and turns around to face his pursuers and says: I fooled you! I fooled you! The story tickled her humour.
And, so with these few thoughts and memories, we come to say a last farewell to Marjorie, the daughter of Joe King and Annie Slevin, the wife of the late David, the mother of Andrew and Jane, the sister of Maura, Seamus and Liam, the relation of an extended family, the friend of many of you and, as we do so we say goodbye to one who didn't do any extraordinary things during her seventy-seven years but who was a person with a generous heart, a lively spirit, a person capable of strong friendships, and we wish eternal rest to her soul and that her memory will remain fresh in the lives of all who knew her.